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Breaking Free of the All-or-Nothing Mindset

Updated on December 29, 2017
Dylan Buckley profile image

Dylan is a freelance writer specializing in the self-development industry. HubPages is where he posts content he doesn't otherwise write.

I wasn't able to break free from the "all-or-nothing" mentality until recently. Let me tell you, finding freedom from this mindset is glorious. What is the "all-or-nothing" mentality? When you think in all-or-nothing terms, you are usually trying to be a perfectionist. For example, I am very strict about my schedule and I do my best to get up on time and get everything done within a certain period of time. However, there are some days when I will wake up late or I will just not have enough energy and focus needed to complete my daily tasks on time.

Before I learned how to triumph over the all-or-nothing mindset, I had difficulty carrying on with my day. If I missed a workout or I didn't use my time wisely, I felt like a worthless failure. I decided that I might as well do nothing that day since it seemed like that was the course I was already on. Considering I am never perfect, this turned into a lot of days of doing absolutely nothing, which just resulted in me feeling worse.

Can you relate? If so, you know how damaging this mindset can be to your life. Instead of giving into this mindset, use the tips below to help you break free of the all-or-nothing expectations you are holding yourself to!

1. Accept That Nothing Will Be Perfect

There is nothing that is perfect in this world. Your schedule is not perfect, your life is not perfect, and your work is not perfect. You will never achieve perfection because it doesn't exist. What you can do, however, is you can always try your best. You can always choose to recover from anything by saying to yourself, "I will give 100 percent today". Trust me when I say this, your best is enough. You are unique and whatever you manage to achieve is what you have to work with. Don't attempt to chase perfection. Instead, give 100 percent every day and you will see even better results.

2. Acknowledge and Recover

There are periods in my day where I will be writing and I will completely space out or accidentally move onto another activity. What I used to do when this would happen is give up on whatever I was doing entirely. I thought that if I couldn't get my work done in the way I wanted, I might as well get no work done at all. You see how this is harmful? Instead of making my decision, acknowledge that you are spacing out or avoiding your work and recover from that moment. Go back to what you were doing and give it all your attention. Sure, you weren't able to do exactly what you wanted to do but doing something is far better than doing nothing.

3. Squeeze in Missed Opportunities

We aren't going to be able to stick to our schedules every day. There are some days where emergencies will pop up and you will have to ignore certain activities. It doesn't mean that you have to skip the event entirely or restart later on in the week, however. There is always room to squeeze important events in. For example, let's imagine that you missed your morning ritual because you overslept. You don't have to skip your morning ritual. All you have to do is move it to a later time when you are available. Rather than meditating for 20 minutes, maybe you can only meditate for five. Maybe you will only be able to drink a bottled tea instead of brewing your own. Even if it isn't to your standards, it is still progress and there is still action being taken. As I stated above, doing something is far better than doing nothing.

4. Make Your Choices and Accept Them

Part of all-or-nothing thinking is making choices that we know are poor and trying to make sense out of them. As I stated earlier, there are plenty of times where I've gotten up late and then chose to sit around instead of trying to get through my normal schedule with time restraints. How did I explain this to myself? I would just say, "Today's my lazy day. It's okay if I get nothing done today because I will just do it tomorrow". This type of behavior where I would make the next day a "restart day" only caused me to take more days off. Soon, tomorrow would become next week and then next month. If you are going to make a poor choice, do it and accept your consequences. When you don't justify your behavior, you begin to see the consequences and make better choices rather than dreaming about some tomorrow that will never actually happen.

The hardest part about overcoming all-or-nothing thinking is that you have to recognize it first. I didn't know I had an all or nothing mindset until I heard it on a podcast and said, "hey, I do that too!" I hope that this article will open your eyes to this behavior and help you beat it!

3 WAYS TO STOP ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING | Advice For Perfectionists

How to Beat All-Or-Nothing Thinking


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